South African Tourism says the announcement that the country will reopen to international travl from October 1 sends a “positive message” to the UK market.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement last night as the country enters national lockdown alert level 1 from midnight Sunday, (September 20).

The number of infections in the country has dropped to fewer than 2,000 per day.

Travel may be restricted to and from certain countries that are deemed high risk, in a similar system to that used in the UK, with a list of countries to be announced in the coming days.

South Africa asks all international travellers to present a Covid-19 free certificate dated no later than 72 hours within their date of arrival when they arrive, or insist that they quarantine.

Kgomotso Ramothea, acting hub head, UK & Ireland, for South African Tourism, said: “We are very encouraged by President Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will open its borders for international flights on October 1.

“This is an extremely positive step in the right direction for tourism in South Africa. Whilst there is more detail to come in the next few days, this progress sends a really positive message to the world, that South Africa is on the road to tourism recovery.

“The UK is our number one international travel market – many of these are repeat visitors, who have an emotional connection to South Africa and we look forward to welcoming them back to experience our beautiful country once again, as well as first time travellers who have always had South Africa on their bucket list and who we hope will seize the opportunity to visit after a difficult year.

“With the announcement yesterday that Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flights to the country from October 18, it demonstrates that consumer confidence is returning. We’re home to incredible natural landscapes, diverse vibrant culture, wide open spaces, an abundance of nature and wildlife, and warm, welcoming people who cannot wait to welcome visitors to South Africa once again.”